Aug. 18, 2016
For most Power Five Conference basketball players, a four-year stay at an institution will come with one international trip during the summer months. NCAA regulations allow a program to plan an international trip once every four years. The Notre Dame men’s basketball team most recently traveled as a group to Italy in August of 2014 and spent time in Ireland in 2008.
For Matt Farrell and Martinas Geben, their time at Notre Dame will end with two trips to the birthplace of the Catholic Church, Ferrari sports cars and pizza. Both Irish juniors spent a week in Italy in early August with the East Coast Basketball All-Stars.
“I don’t think we could have got more out of the experience for both of them,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said.
“For Matt Farrell, to keep up with the confidence he generated in the NCAA tournament and to be able to run a team was important. Maybe the most important aspect of the trip was what Martinas Geben did. To be a double-double guy for four games and to play the minutes and the role that we want him to play for us when the season starts is huge.”
Farrell and Geben visited Northern Italy with the East Coast team, spending time in Milan and Bellagio. They faced four teams during the tour and helped the team finish with a 3-1 record. Geben averaged 15.5 points and 11.3 rebounds in the four games, while Farrell added 11.5 points and 4.3 assists.
“Italy was an amazing experience,” Geben said.
“As a team we were able to visit some of Italy’s most notable cities and faced great competition on the court. I was able to perform well against professionals from all over Europe. I’m thankful for the experience and I believe it will help me contribute at a higher level to our team this season.”
“The trip was a great experience and enabled me to learn even more about the game, especially pick and rolls,” Farrell said.
“East Coast is a great program with great players and a great staff. Being able to spend time in Italy and play basketball at a high level was truly a blessing. It was a great tune up for me and Martinas and I’m looking forward to getting back to school and start work in the court and the classroom with our guys.”
In what has become an Irish team tradition, Farrell and Geben took advantage of an opportunity to travel abroad with East Coast Basketball to get a taste of higher-level basketball competition and further their development before an expected increase in playing time during the next season. V.J. Beachem played with the East Coast team in 2015, following Tom Knight (2013), Jack Cooley (2011) and Scott Martin (2010).
For each of those Irish players, the time spent with the East Coast All-Stars was not only an opportunity to develop on the court, but provided additional confidence for the upcoming college basketball season.
“It has been a gold mine for us, getting our players ready to ‘make the leap’ in their contributions for our team,” Brey said.
“We always try to select a guy we want to jump start to a bigger role. This year we expect big things from Matt and Martinas.”
The 2016-17 Notre Dame men’s basketball team will all return to campus this weekend in preparation for the start of the academic school year on August 23. Full practice is expected to begin the first week of October.